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Inbox: They still need to build for the future

Different flavors all around

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Packers GM Brian Gutekunst

Scott from Salem, OR

Never mind Bruce Clark and Bruce Smith...if we have synapses working on a revisionist history, get them working on the Dan Devine/John Hadl situation.

That was before my time, but I'll get on it nonetheless. Hope everyone had a Happy Easter.

Gene from Oconto Falls, WI

Is this the most picks the Packers have had in a draft?

I'm not sure about the number of picks going into a draft, but I can tell you over the past 25 years, the Packers drafted 11 players in 2005, '07 and '18. They also drafted 12 in '99 and '06, and 13 in 2000.

Jeff from Ogden, UT

Which signing do you like better, MVS at $10 million or Watkins at $4 million?

Definitely the latter, especially given the Packers' cap situation. I give MVS all the credit in the world for getting that contract, but I said at the time there's no way the Packers were going to pay that much for a receiver whose single-season career highs are 690 yards and six TDs. Sammy Watkins' deal is for one year, a low-risk, potential high-reward proposition. It's what I figured they'd work out with somebody, I just wasn't sure it would happen before the draft.

Nathan from Philadelphia, PA

Reportedly, Watkins' contract is worth up to $4 million. I'd bet a good chunk of that "up to" is in NLTBE incentives, so that the expected value of his contract isn't enough to count towards the compensatory pick formula. Otherwise, the Packers would risk having Watkins and Reed cancel out the much more valuable contracts of MVS and Patrick (2 guys out, 2 guys in), leaving them shut out of compensatory picks. Is that too much math for the Inbox?

Probably.

Justin from Los Angeles, CA

In regards to Olave and Wilson being on the same team, I remember similar questions coming up about two Ole Miss receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft: DK Metcalf and AJ Brown. Lots of debate about which one would be better and they both turned out to be studs. I'm sure you can think of other examples too. If you think a guy's got it, draft him!

Exactly.

CJ from Cedar Rapids, IA

I don't think adding Watkins will change the Packers' draft strategy any other than the possibility they may draft Williams out of Alabama earlier because now it would be easier to wait for his tremendous potential. Your thoughts?

Hadn't thought of it in that fashion. Stay tuned I guess. But no, the Packers aren't changing their strategy. They still need to build for the future at receiver.

Tom from Walker, MI

How many games will Watkins play this year?

If healthy, all of them. But I can't possibly predict if or when he might get injured.

Eric from Neenah, WI

Why has Aaron Jones' impact in the playoffs the last two years been so minimal?

Wait, what? Against the Rams two postseasons ago, he had 14 carries for 99 yards and a TD, including a 60-yard run. Then against the Bucs he got hurt on the play he fumbled and couldn't return to the game. Last January vs. the 49ers he had nine receptions for 129 yards, including a 75-yarder. You've lost me.

Greg from Perkasie, PA

Does age of a prospect concern you at all? I've seen Devonte Wyatt mentioned a bunch in here, but he's 24 years old. He would be pushing 28/29 when he is up for a second contract, as opposed to the 25/26/27 of a younger prospect which would allow the team to get more years out of the pick that they used.

I see your point, but I think you worry about the second contract when the time comes, for a couple of reasons. One, so much can happen in the interim that can't be foreseen, both good (rising above expectations) and bad (injuries). Two, the Packers have a 38-year-old HOF quarterback. If you think a guy can be a stud for the next four years, he's worth the pick, in my opinion.

Mike from Las Vegas, NV

Who is the best BAP ever drafted? Basically the best player available regardless of need? One would argue Aaron Rodgers. Although I could be biased on that one.

I'm not sure how to measure that, but I don't know if another team has ever drafted a player in the first round while already possessing a sure-fire Hall of Famer at the same position, and then had said draft pick go on to a Hall of Fame career of his own. If anyone's aware, please share.

Kerry from Lakewood Ranch, FL

Is the current defensive unit, offensive line and running back room the best in the Aaron Rodgers era?

Interesting thought. I'm not sure, because it feels like a tough call compared to the '14 groups. The offensive line in '14 was better, I believe, and stayed healthy. Defensively, the '14 unit changed its character when Matthews moved inside, while last year's D was darn impressive despite the absences of Jaire Alexander and Za'Darius. In the backfield, Lacy-Starks-Kuhn vs. Jones-Dillon? Also close. Different flavors all around.

Jim from St. Paul, MN

There you go again. Comparing AR's avoiding of the offseason program to a professor teaching freshmen was totally expected. Since you know he's not showing, you decide to downplay the importance. Had he stated he was showing up to get his receivers up to speed, you would have praised his decision. He's staying home, and that hurts the development of his receivers, and he doesn't give a hoot cuz he thinks of himself first, and team last. But you can't and won't say that. Same old same old.

I know Vic would have just answered this with his famous "OK." Not my style, at least not today. First, I don't know that he's not showing up. It wouldn't be a surprise if he doesn't given the reported incentive structure of his new contract, but last year was the first time in his entire career he skipped out on everything prior to training camp. Lesson to me on answering a hypothetical, but I bit and gave my (hopefully educated) view on it.

Second, an additional element I didn't get into Friday was that even if he's here, he's not likely to take many, if any, snaps in the spring with rookie receivers. That's not how it worked with Nelson in '08, Adams in '14 or the three draft picks in '18. My best guess is the vast majority of three-receiver sets with the No. 1 offense in the spring will feature veterans – Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Watkins, regardless of who's drafted. Maybe LaFleur would change it up more than just a rep here or there, but in my experience rookies have to earn those snaps with QB1, and that doesn't happen to any meaningful extent until training camp anyway. I might've undersold the Watkins angle in my previous answer, because I forgot he had a year with LaFleur in a similar system, in '17 with LA. My bad. Whether Watkins' presence in the spring will influence Rodgers, I have no idea. But now I've more fully explained the rookie aspect.

Third, I don't say what you (and many others) want me to say about Rodgers because that's not the player I know. You can take it or leave it, but that's based on listening to or attending almost every press conference he's given since becoming a starting QB 14 years ago, as well as conducting one-on-one interviews. People are entitled to their opinions after everything that went down last year, but any judgments I pass along (or don't) are based on observations of an entire career's body of work, not just the most recent off-the-field pieces.

Last but not least, if that's how you really feel about me and my analysis, it confounds me how or why you have any interest in what I have to say. It truly does.

Doug from Neenah, WI

Good morning, Mike. There's going to be a long dry spell between the Packers' fifth-round pick (No. 171) and their first of three in the seventh round (No. 228), probably several hours or more. According to the draft charts, is trading two seventh-rounders for one sixth even a logical possibility? Thanks.

Not likely. The chart values all seventh-round picks at about a point apiece. A mid-sixth is worth around 10 points. Seventh-rounders aren't considered much different than UDFAs, and teams generally just pick the guys they think they'd have the most competition to sign if they waited until after the draft.

Brad from Denver, CO

For those of us small-towners who lived to root for the underdog former I-AAs, how did Christian Watson look at the Senior Bowl against top-level DBs from the big schools he didn't see regularly playing against the smaller conferences? Vic always said the game itself didn't matter; it was the practices that told the tale of what the scouts and coaches looked for.

It is the practices that matter, and several media reports indicated Watson more than held his own. He solidified his first-/second-round status at the Senior Bowl.

Rob from Elgin, IL

When's the earliest that civilians can come out and watch the best team in the NFL practice?

OTAs begin the week of May 23, but the Packers have not announced if/when any of those practices will be open to the public.

Brian from Sugar Land, TX

College athletics are becoming more "professional," with athletes going pro, jumping into transfer portals, etc. What's to prevent a conference, such as the SEC, from having athletes sign "scholarship agreements" committing the athlete, or paying an indemnity to leave before four years? Athletes now sell their image. Schools promote their star athletes. Wisconsin basketball is an example with its star leaving after one year. That's a high expense to bear.

I don't know where this is headed with the transfer portal, NIL deals and the like. All I do know is college athletics will continue to evolve as far as the parameters around scholarships, stipends, possible salaries, everything. The evolution is barely underway.

Rick from Caledonia, WI

Good morning! The Packers have made some good progress this offseason with recent signings including the impressive new special teams coach. In your opinions what are the most important missing pieces to get back to the Super Bowl?

With a good draft, I think the Packers will have all the pieces they need, as they have the past two years. It'll just come down to playing their best football when it matters most, which they haven't.

Brooke from Lorifield, WI

I periodically still try to figure out what happened in the final game last year. Then I wonder how ML moves on from it. It had to hurt. Then it dawned on me he probably doesn't. I'll bet he analyzed the heck out of it and will keep it in mind in order to recognize anything familiar happening again to change it. Learning vs. dwelling.

No need to be cute with the who and where. To your point, that's the balance the pros seek and must find all the time – players, coaches, everyone involved. Dwelling holds you back, in the past. Learning moves you forward, into the future.

Chuck from Richfield, WI

Spof and Wes, of the seven main position categories (QB, WR, RB, OL, DB, LB, DL), who are your choices for most dominating of all time? I'm going with Brady, Hutson, J. Brown, Shell, Lott, L. Taylor and a toss-up between R. White and B. Smith.

I like many of your picks, but I'd probably lean toward Rice over Hutson and White over Smith. Definitely Muñoz over Shell. If you add an inside linebacker to go with Taylor as the clear-cut outside selection, that's a spot I have a really hard time choosing. Lewis? Butkus? Lambert? Singletary? I dunno.

Mike from Baraboo, WI

If the Packers transition into more of a running team, how do you feel Rodgers will adjust to being more of a game manager versus a game-changer?

I think the day Rodgers feels he's a game manager is the day he walks away from the game.

Craig from London, UK

Hi II, what makes the better draft pick in a scout's eyes? A raw talent with a high potential ceiling, or a more proven talent with a lower ceiling?

It depends on which scout you're talking to. That's one of the beauties of the business.

Jeffrey from Taylors, SC

Board question. If you definitely will not draft a certain first-round player (character concerns), do you include them on your draft board?

If you're not interested in the player at all, in any round, then no. He's not on the board if he's not a consideration.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

I don't feel that a lack of drive or desire is a fair way to explain why some prospects don't pan out. I think we all need to acknowledge that the margins are just razor-thin at this level. A player can pair a perfect mentality and work ethic with tremendous athleticism and still not make it. The job is so difficult that hundreds of qualified candidates will give it their all and fail every year. I have so much respect for the players, and can see why making the picks is a brutally tough job.

All true.

Daniel from Rothschild, WI

I know I'm just being old and cantankerous, but these people saying they can't wait for football to start drive me crazy. All I hear is that people want winter to end, and they're already jumping to fall. Give spring and summer a chance first, please.

Amen. Happy Monday.

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